Specialist autism school closes after positive Covid tests

Acorn Park School in Banham that has seen a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Acorn Park School in Banham that has seen a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

An independent specialist school for pupils who have autism and associated difficulties has closed early for half-term due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Three children and eight staff at Acorn Park, a specialist day and residential school in Banham have tested positive.

A bubble of children were sent home to self-isolate before the school closed three days earlier than planned for half-term.

MORE: ‘The pressure is immense’ - Headteachers feel strain of term dominated by CovidA spokesperson at Acorn Park School said: “Swift and effective action was taken by management working closely with the Norfolk Outbreak Management Centre and Public Health England.

Acorn Park School in Banham that has seen a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Acorn Park School in Banham that has seen a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

“A bubble of children were sent home to self-isolate on October 15 and, as a precaution, the remainder were sent home on October 16 – three days days ahead of the end of term, allowing for the statutory 14 days isolation specified by PHE. Online learning provision for all has been put in place.”

The school, set on its own site in the south Norfolk village, has 84 pupils ranging in age from six to 19 and is part of Options Autism, which also runs specialist schools and therapeutic care in specialist homes to children and adults with autism, complex needs and learning difficulties in London and Scotland.


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Acorn Park pupils have an EHCP special education plan and a primary diagnosis of autism or Asperger’s Syndrome and teaches an enhanced curriculum modified to meet the needs of individual students.

The school also includes residential homes for small family groups and a cluster of small flats for teenagers and young adults living semi-independently.

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Coronavirus measures have been increased for those still living on the site as a result of the outbreak.

The school spokesman added: “PPE and social distancing has been stepped up further to safeguard the wellbeing of the remaining 13 residents in line with the national guidance for children’s residential service.”

MORE: More than 70 Norfolk schools and colleges have Covid casesMore than 70 schools and colleges in Norfolk currently have confirmed coronavirus cases - and 1,500 pupils and staff have had to self-isolate since the autumn term started with all pupils returning September.

Although overall attendance at Norfolk schools is above the national average, despite the pandemic, there have been confirmed Covid-19 cases in at least 23 primary schools, 17 secondary schools and in one of the 13 special schools.

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